The sitter is someone of flesh and blood and what has to be caught is their emanation…
- Francis Bacon
This decade had a momentous beginning for Bacon. In 1971 a major book on his work by the art critic John Russell was published. In the same year, he was given a retrospective exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris which marked his critical and commercial success. Tragically, on the eve of the exhibition opening George Dyer, Bacon’s long-term lover, was found dead in his hotel room – an event that would haunt Bacon.
Bacon produced some of his most poignant and powerful triptychs in this period. Breaking his own precedent of never painting the dead and his rule of not representing a narrative, several triptychs memorialise Dyer and aspects of their life.
In the mid 1970s Bacon met John Edwards. He became his close companion and, like Dyer, featured in many portraits and figure studies. The relationship with Edwards lasted until the artist’s death and he was the sole inheritor of Bacon’s estate.